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Overseas Students

Volume 889: debated on Monday 7 April 1975

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asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether action will be taken by her Department to help students from developing countries studying in the United Kingdom to pay the increased tuition fees in universities and colleges recently announced by the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development
(Mr. John Grant)

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science said in a Written Answer on 18th March, my Department will pay the increased fee in respect of those students whom we assist as part of the aid programme, including those who secure awards under the Overseas Students Fees Awards Scheme.

Will there be any possibility of helping students from developing countries who are currently being assisted under the scheme mentioned by my hon. Friend?

While the scheme is under review it is intended to allow for some increase in the numbers assisted under it. An increase in tuition fees is, in any case, only a small proportion of the cost to an overseas student of a course of study in the United Kingdom. We would expect the financial sponsors of such students to be able to meet the comparatively small extra cost involved. We will make a statement shortly about the revision of the Overseas Students Fees Awards Scheme.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is some apprehension over the fact that there seems to be developing a form of technical and scientific brain-drain which invoves capable people from the subcontinent coming to this country and some other parts of Europe to earn a living? Is not this something to which my hon. Friend should turn his mind to see whether these people can be helped to make short stays in this country and then return to the subcontinent, where they are urgently needed, to make a major contribution?

I think that there is a serious problem for all the developing countries concerned. My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to it. The real answer to the situation lies with the developing countries themselves. It is for them to take steps.